King, Clarence, 1842-1901

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Clarence Rivers King (1842-1901) was a geologist, mining engineer, and writer. He graduated from Yale Scientific School in 1862, journeyed West, and joined the California Geological Survey as volunteers. From 1867-1877, King directed the geological and scientific survey of the Fortieth Parallel from eastern Colorado to the California border. The next year he was made head of the newly established United States Geological Survey, a position he held until entering private practice as a mining engineer in 1881.

From the description of Papers of Clarence King, 1859-1902. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122570814

Graduating with a degree in chemistry from the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale in 1862, Clarence King spent another full year preparing himself to become a geologist by studying privately and attending courses at Harvard. Recognizing that practical experience was essential, however, King signed on as a volunteer aboard Josiah Whitney's fledgling California Geological Survey from 1863, setting off across the plains and mountains on horseback for a three year stint in the far west.

While traversing the continent, King conceived of organizing a cross-country geological survey that would cut a transect across the nation parallel to the transcontinental railraod. With Whitney's assistance, the idea germinated in 1867 into the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, one of four great western geological surveys during the mid-century. For five years, King led a company of Army Topographical Engineers from the Sierra Nevadas to the Rockies, work that culminated in an influential series of publications crowned by King's own Systematic Geology .

With the success of the Fortieth Parallel survey on his side, King returned east and soon took up lobbying for the National Academy of Sciences to urge Congress to approve formation of a U.S. Geological Survey, an agency intended to supplant the existing surveys and guide future geological and topographical exploration of the country. After a brief controversy over whether he or F.V. Hayden should be appointed head, King became the first Director of the U.S.G.S. in March 1879.

King's tenure with the Survey was to be very brief. Arguing that he had accomplished his goal of placing the Survey on a firm and permanent footing, he resigned as the Hayes administration left office in April 1881, leaving the directorship in the hands of his hand-picked successor, John Wesley Powell. King retired into private practice as a mining engineer and economic geologist in 1881. His efforts to earn his fortune in mines, however, largely failed, and although he remained active behind the scenes in geological politics until almost the turn of the turn of the century, King spent much of his time as a jovial clubman, socializing at the Union League Club and Century Club in New York. His common law marriage to a Black woman, Ada Copeland, in 1888 was kept largely secret. He died of tuberculosis in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 24, 1901, leaving his wife and four children.

From the guide to the Clarence King Papers, 1873-1894, 1873-1894, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Higginson, Henry Lee, 1834-1919. Business records, 1799-1919 (inclusive), 1870-1919 (bulk). Harvard Business School, Knowledge and Library Services/Baker Library
referencedIn Hay, John, 1838-1905. Letter from John Milton Hay to James D. Hague, 1903, Dec. 4. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Gilman, Daniel Coit, 1831-1908. Daniel Coit Gilman correspondence, 1871-1875. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn John Hay Papers, 1783-1999, (bulk 1897-1905) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn George P. Merrill Correspondence and Autographs, 1803-1926 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Aspinwall, Thomas, 1786-1876,. American and English literary and historical papers collected by Atcheson L. Hench [manuscript] 1782-1966. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901. Papers, 1877-1934, bulk: 1877-1895. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Hay, John, 1838-1905. Correspondence, 1854-1914, "LaFarge" to "Lincoln". Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. Correspondence, 1869-1879, of the Powell Survey. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn J.P. Lesley Papers, 1826-1898 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Frederick Law Olmsted Papers, 1777-1952, (bulk 1838-1903) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Hague, A. (Arnold), 1840-1917. Geological map of the White Pine Mining District / geology, A. Hague ; topography, F.A. Clark. Library of Congress
creatorOf Pinart, A. L. (Alphonse Louis), 1852-1911,. Tradition Apache : San Carlos Indian Agency, Arizona, 1876 March 12. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912. George Jarvis Brush family papers, 1834-1960 (inclusive), 1834-1939 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901. Report on the property of the Sierra Iron Company situated in Sierra and Plumas Counties, California, 1873, February. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Lesley, J. P. (J. Peter), 1819-1903. Papers, 1826-1898. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Ridgway family. Papers. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
creatorOf Clarence King Papers, 1873-1894, 1873-1894 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn James Russell Lowell additional papers, 1802-1898. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Barus, Carl, 1856-1935. Carl Barus papers, 1869-1935,n.d. Brown University, John Hay Library
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901. Arizona and Fort Mojave photographs [graphic] UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903. Frederick Law Olmsted papers, 1777-1952 (bulk 1838-1903). Library of Congress
referencedIn Reed, Thomas B. (Thomas Brackett), 1839-1902. Papers of Thomas B. Reed, 1880-1902. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Adams, Henry, 1838-1918. Microfilm edition of the Henry Adams papers, 1843-1938. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Farquhar, Francis Peloubet, 1887-1974. Francis P. Farquhar collection of material relating to Clarence King. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901. Papers of Clarence King, 1859-1902. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899. Othniel Charles Marsh papers, 1817-1899 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915. Charles Francis Adams papers, 1861-1933 ; bulk 1890-1918. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901. Letters of Clarence King [manuscript] 1891 & n.d. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. 1826 - 2009. Letters Received Relating to the Geological Survey and its Predecessors
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901,. Letters, 1877-1881, to Clarence King acknowledging copies of his Report of the geological exploration of the fortieth parallel. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn O'Toole, Patricia. The Five of Hearts : an American friendship / by Patricia O'Toole. Brown University, Brown University Library
creatorOf Records of the U.S. Geological Survey. 1839 - 2008. Publications
referencedIn Automobile Club of Southern California,. Automobile Club of Southern California Collection of Photographs and Negatives, 1898-1982 (bulk 1920s-1930s) Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Bailey, William Whitman, 1843-1914. Letters on the U.S. Geological Survey of the 40th Parallel, c.1867-1906. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Samuel Franklin Emmons Papers, 1725-1914, (bulk 1861-1911) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Clarence King : [collection] : 1861-1881. History Colorado
referencedIn Evans, Barbara. Letter to Thurman Wilkins, 1983 Sept. 13. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Ridgway Family. Papers, 1850-1942. University of New Mexico, Los Alamos, UNM-Los Alamos Library
referencedIn Howells family papers, 1850-1954 (inclusive). Houghton Library.
referencedIn King, Clarence,. Letters, 1873-1881. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf King, Clarence, 1842-1901. Letter : to Prof. J. E. Clayton / by Clarence King, 1885 Dec 2. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Merrill, George P. (George Perkins), 1854-1929. George P. Merrill correspondence and autographs, 1803-1926. Library of Congress
referencedIn John Wesley Powell correspondence, 1869-1879, of the Powell Survey, 1869-1879 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel (1867-1881). William Ashburner collection of photographs from the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel [graphic] / United States Geological Exploration of the 40th parallel: T.H. O'Sullivan, photographer. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Automobile Club of Southern California Collection of Photographs and Negatives, 1898-1982, bulk 1920s-1930s The Huntington Library
creatorOf Hay, John, 1838-1905. Correspondence, 1854-1914, "Johnston" to "La Farge" Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn James, Henry, 1843-1916. Papers of Henry James [manuscript], 1876-1915, 1930-1939. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Barlow, Samuel L. M. (Samuel Latham Mitchill), 1826-1889. Papers of Samuel L. M. Barlow, 1776-1905 (bulk 1885-1889). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn George Jarvis Brush family papers, 1834-1960, 1834-1939 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912. George Jarvis Brush family papers, 1834-1960 (inclusive), 1834-1939 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Emmons, Samuel Franklin, 1841-1911. Papers of Samuel Franklin Emmons, 1725-1914 (bulk 1861-1911). Library of Congress
creatorOf Geological Survey (U.S.). Records of the geological exploration of the fortieth parallel ("King Survey"), 1867-81 [microform]. U.S. Geological Survey Library, National Center, USGS Reston
creatorOf Camacho, Sebastian. Invitation, 1887, October, Mexico, to Clarence King. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899. Othniel Charles Marsh papers, 1817-1899 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Adams, Henry, 1838-1918. Letters of Henry Adams [manuscript] 1870-1913. University of Virginia. Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915. person
associatedWith Adams, Henry, 1813-1877 person
associatedWith Adams, Henry, 1838-1918. person
associatedWith Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910 person
associatedWith Automobile Club of Southern California, corporateBody
associatedWith Bailey, William Whitman, 1843-1914. person
correspondedWith Barlow, Samuel L. M. (Samuel Latham Mitchill), 1826-1889. person
associatedWith Barus, Carl, 1856-1935. person
associatedWith Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912. person
associatedWith California Geological Survey (1860 - 1874) corporateBody
associatedWith Camacho, Sebastian. person
associatedWith Cater, Harold Dean, 1908- person
associatedWith Chamberlin, Thomas C. (Thomas Chrowder), 1843-1928 person
associatedWith Clayton, Joshua E. (Joshua Elliot) person
associatedWith Emmons, Samuel Franklin, 1841-1911. person
associatedWith Evans, Barbara. person
associatedWith Farquhar, Francis Peloubet, 1887-1974. person
associatedWith Geological Survey of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Geological Survey (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gilman, Daniel Coit, 1831-1908. person
associatedWith Hague, A. (Arnold), 1840-1917. person
associatedWith Hague, James D., person
associatedWith Hay, John, 1838-1905. person
associatedWith Higginson, Henry Lee, 1834-1919. person
associatedWith James, Henry, 1843-1916. person
associatedWith King, Clarence, person
associatedWith La Farge, John, 1835-1910. person
associatedWith Lesley, Allen person
associatedWith Lesley, J. P. (J. Peter), 1819-1903. person
correspondedWith Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891 person
associatedWith Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899. person
correspondedWith Merrill, George P. (George Perkins), 1854-1929. person
correspondedWith Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903. person
associatedWith O'Toole, Patricia. person
associatedWith Pinart, A. L. (Alphonse Louis), 1852-1911, person
associatedWith Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. person
associatedWith Putnam, George Haven, 1844-1930 person
associatedWith Reed, Thomas B. (Thomas Brackett), 1839-1902. person
associatedWith Ridgway family. family
associatedWith Ridgway Family. family
associatedWith United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel (1867-1881) corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Geological Survey corporateBody
associatedWith Walcott, Charles D., (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927 person
associatedWith Waring, George E. (George Edwin), 1833-1898 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
West (U.S.)
Mexico
California
Utah
Cheyenne (Wyo.)
Hot Creek Mining District (Utah)
Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nevada)
United States
United States
Subject
Geology
Geologists--Archives
Mining engineers
Mines and Mineral Resources
Mining engineers--Archives
Geology--19th century
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1842-01-06

Death 1901-12-24

Americans

English

Information

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